the olympus pen e-pm1 (and, of course, gratitude)

As you all know, I love my Nikon D300.  It's my go-to camera for almost everything I share with you here on Chookooloonks.  Even though I'm ready to upgrade (when, oh, when, Nikon, will you come out with a new, next generation pro/semipro dSLR with decent high definition video?  You're killing me over here), for now, the Nikon D300 does a fine job. 

The only problem with it (and most dSLR's for that matter)?  It is a bulky thing.   This doesn't really matter when I'm actually on a shoot, trying to capture images for my work -- but whenever I'm just out and about, just shooting for me, it can be really cumbersome lugging that thing around.  I have a point-and-shoot, but after shooting so long with an SLR camera, I find point-and-shoots really frustrating, since (a) most of the controls are automated (and I like to shoot in manual mode), and (b) I can't switch lenses, allowing me (again) more control over the resulting image.  Ditto for my iPhone -- while it's definitely fun, the quality of the resulting images aren't always to my liking.

And then, a couple of weeks ago, Olympus contacted me and asked me if I'd like a free camera -- their new PEN E-PM1 -- as part of their PEN READY Project, a project designed "to demonstrate how easy it is for anyone to capture extraordinary photos and videos with the PEN camera."  The only thing I'm required to do is share the top 20 images (or video!) that I capture on their new Tumblr site, which will feature the work of the 1000 or so people that they're also giving the camera to.

I'd heard of these PEN cameras when they first came out:  apparently, what makes them pretty amazing is that they have the convenience of the scale of a point-and-shoot, but you can change the lenses out.  I've been so curious about this, and so, since I'm no fool, I quickly said yes.

This week, it arrived.  Is this not the cutest little camera you've ever seen?  I mean, look at this:


Come on, that is adorable.  To give you an idea of the size of this camera, that thing lying in front of it, that the lens cap is reflecting off of?  That's my iPhone.  Another look, this time with the PEN sprawled on top of the iPhone, as if the phone was a grand piano, and the PEN was Michelle Pfeiffer from The Fabulous Baker Boys:


Like Marcus said when he first saw it, it's STUPID cute.

As of this writing, I haven't used it yet, but I think I'm going to let the D300 go on vacation for the rest of this month, and I'm going to shoot exclusively with the PEN, to see how I do.  I have a bit of trepidation:  it doesn't come with a viewfinder (and I have no idea how to use the back screen of a point-and-shoot -- or how to use it well, anyway), so this could be interesting.  But from what I hear, it will let me shoot manually, and the image quality is supposed to be great.  Also, some of the photos being shared on the PEN Ready site are pretty impressive, so fingers crossed. I'll definitely let you guys know how it goes.

Fear notwithstanding, I'm incredibly grateful to Olympus for giving me this opportunity.

And speaking of gratitude, as always, I'm sharing everything else I'm grateful for this week over at my gratitude blog, Bliss Your Heart, on  This week actually had a bit of a rough patch, so I'm musing about why a gratitude practice is so important to me.  Please go take a look.

And with that, have a beautiful weekend, friends.